9 November 2013

Just Say Yes.

Some people really annoy me. They let their own mad attitudes stop themselves from achieving such great things. Just their attitudes, nothing else.
Most things are possible in this day and age if you want them enough. When I decided that I wasn't experienced or wise enough to do justice to the University degree I was doing, I sat down with a glass of wine and a really blank piece of paper literally entitled "What am I going to do?"  
(For more inspirational quotes check out recent challenges here and here
I could have launched into another degree that I wasn't really passionate about, I could have taken a dead end job that made me hate life, I could have gone on the unemployment benefit. But I didn't - to a large extent I credit my friend Anna. She is blimmin perfect. Beautiful, intelligent and lovely to boot. She also had a wall of photographs covered floor to ceiling in adventures she had been on over 3 years of living in England and travelling to other exotic countries.
I took stock, and decided that I wanted a piece of that tropical pie/photograph covered wall. So, I moved back home and started job hunting (and buying the odd Lotto ticket - you have to hedge your bets, right?) I decided on a goal of one year of working, and calculated how much I thought I'd need to get by (and how much money I needed to have in the bank for my Visa). I went to the local supermarket that my sister worked at, plonked my butt in their interview chair and got a job working in their Delicatessen and Fish department. I was straight up with them - I wanted to work for a year, wanted as many hours as they'd give me and I was only going to be there for a year.
Somehow they liked the spirit, and hired me. I also worked out that I'd need extra hours to make my goal so I got a job in a nearby restaurant to increase my week to 60 hours. They weren't glamorous jobs by any stretch of the imagination, but to keep me going I put a world map on my wall, measured the distance on the actual map and got a piece of dowling that length, and drew lines, making a very rustic measure to show how far around the globe each $1,000.00 would get me. Every week I would get my marker pen out & colour in a little bit more of that dowling.
I also kept a small photo of Italy in my wallet for the soul-crushing days. The days that were exhausting, stressful and horrible. Those were the days that I needed an extra something (in addition to energy drinks) to keep my drive going. Even my family doubted secretly that I'd make it in such a short time. I was very lucky that living at home allowed me to pay a subsidised rent and get to know more of my family, but it also meant that Friday nights in drinking with friends didn't happen so often, I couldn't wander around eating dip out of the container or have 30 minute showers.
It did mean however that I was able to book a flight from New Zealand to London, with a 10 day stopover in Singapore (I decided after much consultation it was a safe taste of Asia for a lone female traveller) and travel. Then, off I went.
In very many ways I'm very lucky to have grown up in a 'number 8 wire' or 'can do' culture mentality that says anything is possible with a little bit of hard graft and almost expects kids to need to travel away from our small island.
It came down to choice in the end. I made a choice to travel, learn about myself and scare the jiminy out of myself. It was sheer foolhardy bravado, but with the unwavering encouragement of my friends and family, some long work days and a lot of pouring through guide books, I made it. If I can do this, you can do anything as well - I'm no-one special at all.
The moral of my long wandering post? Decide what you want, work out how to get it and make it happen. I've spent years here in London a little miserable at times because I didn't know very many people other than my lovely husband, a few choice mates and some horrible colleagues (it's because of the industry I work in, and no I'm not giving that away - a girl has to have some secrets).
I started blogging, and Twittering and one day began chatting to some lovely Kiwi lasses who suggested we meet up for a coffee. God it was nerve-wracking, and god I'm glad I did. They were blimmin lovely, a tiny bit crazy (you know who you are) and from there life had been pretty awesome. I've made many more friends in the last two years, who share the same obsessions (and have started a few) than I did in 5 years. It was hard, I'm not going to lie. I've had to push myself so much out of my comfort zone (i.e. wallowing) that I don't think I can go back (Hello Foodie Blogger Conference). What have you got to lose?
London can be a hard mistress, but at the end of the day it's YOU who will need to make that first move. Rome wasn't built in a day, but every journey takes a first step. The next time that you feel blue or sad or bored or poor, take a step. Take that quiet person out for lunch - who cares what anyone else thinks (unless they smell, in which case they need to be told.) If you make a butt of yourself, you never have to see them again. More likely if you hit it off, you'll make friends who are in the same boat and love a gossip. Take a walk on the brave side and go out to a talk on Google+ whilst sipping prosseco in a posh hotel (hello Ladies in Blogging). Give up those daily Starbucks for a week & spend your £15 on a theatre play, or a walking tour, joining a sport team or a flight to Rome.
In other words, just say Yes.
Go on, just for me. You never know where that step might lead. Who else is going to stop you?
What have you done that scared the boogers out of you, but you wouldn't have missed it for the world?

Twitter | Google+ | Facebook | Bloglovin' | Email


  1. I ran off to teach English in Japan and turned down law school after graduating from University. Didn't know anyone in Japan but it was far from home :-)) The law school wouldn't hold my place open for me and no guarantee I'd get in again if I reapplied. Luckily I did, and I had a wonderful 2 years in Japan in the interim. Best thing ever for me since I needed a mental break from school. Yep -- Just say yes!!

  2. Lovely story and something you should be very proud of!

  3. Emma, it was so great to meet you today. I love this post. You have hit the nail on the head. Getting on and off the plane to London scared the shit outa me, but god damn it was worth it!

  4. Love this! And I can relate to where you're coming from-- I'm back home visiting friends and family for a month, but have decided to take on a part time job while I'm in Texas to save up some extra money before heading back overseas.

    Although it's just a waitressing position and it's not as "impressive" as my former job as a software consultant and takes away from the time I want to just be spending going out with friends I haven't seen in a while, I know that I'm doing it to save up for something I really enjoy doing-- living overseas!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. You have to have adventure in your life, this little bit of unpredictability!
    Three years ago, the bookshop I was working for, had to make people redundant due to profit loss.
    I was 30 years and always dreamt of living abroad,. When friends from Sunderland, UK, invited me to stay at theirs for one year, I took the chance! I love living abroad, using my German skills, learning language and culture every day, and my Scottish boyfriend! So happy I did it!

  6. You got one thing wrong.... you ARE someone special... very special! You have touched my heart when I really needed it. I'm in the saving part of things... and with fingers.... and toes crossed... I'll be there by the end of summer ...
    Have a wonderful Sunday!!
    Tammy xx

  7. This is such a gret post that conveys spirit and great pluck ! I hate to admit that I am old, but when I was fourteen I decided I had enough of my little town and that within in a year I would be studying abroad. I worked hard to save money (babysitting and as an elf at a Christmas themed amusement park) and applied for scholarships. I met my goal within a year and was living in Germany as an exchange student for my sophomore year of high school. Oh, it was a struggle at times because I spoke absolutely no German, but I wouldn't change it for the world. That one experience & year helped me get into university in Canada followed by work in Switzerland and Germany.

  8. What a great read this was. I've always been awestruck by the "can do" mentality that all the people from Down Under I met seem to have in common, and think that lots of us Europeans should take a leaf out of your book and start daring and discovering more. Leaving Italy to move to London was quite a big step for me, but reading your story, I find myself wishing I'd had the guts to do more - one gap year travelling around the world, for example, which is unfortunately very uncommon in my country's culture. In the end, you're exactly right - no one will ever take the first step on our behalf, so it's our duty to say "yes" loud and proud :)

  9. Aww such a lovely and inspirational post. But truly, you had me with the first sentence. ;-)

  10. I am so lucky to be able to call you a friend. You are one cool chick. I love how you figured out what you wanted, and then you did whatever it took to get yourself there. Sixty hours a week at ANY job would be trying, so big high fives! I'm glad you're here now!

  11. I'm a just say yes person! I've had to scale myself back from saying yes to too much to not put myself in the poor house, but I agree, it's all about attitude, and if you want to do something, find a way to do it. I think everyone needs to read this.

  12. First time reading something of yours and I love your attitude! Sometimes you just have to buckle down and do it... it's always really respectful whenever someone accomplishes a goal, no matter the means.

  13. I love this post - you so clearly convey your determination to break out and see the world! Great inspiration :) As a fellow expat Kiwi, getting on the plane to move to London was both the scariest and most exciting thing I've done so far - and the best decision I ever made!

  14. Love this post too. I think people underestimate their ability to make things happen, and just end up waiting for opportunity to knock on their door. Deciding to teach abroad the first time was hard for me, I was utterly shell-shocked for the first week, but I can't regret it at all.

  15. This is so inspiring, Emma! I need to do what you did! I shared this on my list of links on my blog today.

  16. yes, Yes, and YES! I relate a lot to this story....saving up my pennies to travel and being frugal to travel some more. I also believe it's good to challenge yourself with something that slightly scares you - that's where the growing happens! Thanks for your words Emma :)


So, what do you think? Comments are blogging mana; short, sweet, long, loquacious, deep and meaningful...